Brighton Green Party motion on divestment

In October 2015 the Brighton & Hove Green Party submitted a divestment motion to be discussed by Brighton & Hove Council on the ESCC Pension Fund. The main motion can be found below – the full motion with background document can be found here.

The motion didn’t pass – it lost by 11 votes to 23, with 19 abstentions. Full minutes from the vote are put below the motion, which are also on the Brighton & Hove Council website
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This Council notes:

• The upcoming Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, otherwise known as “Paris 2015”, starting on November 30th.

This Council requests:

1) The Acting Chief Executive write to the Leader of East Sussex County Council requesting a position statement on the potential impact of stranded fossil fuel assets on the ESPF deficit, suggesting divestment as a way forward; and

2) That the Council’s representative on the ESCC Pensions Board maintain a strong position against fossil fuel investment on the Pensions Board and that s/he report to Council annually on progress.

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Minutes from the meeting on the vote of the motion

(e) Divest for Paris

50.48 The Notice of Motion as listed in the agenda was proposed by Councillor Greenbaum and seconded by Councillor Sykes.

50.49 Councillor Greenbaum stated that there was a need to recognise that action had to be taken now in order to ensure the planet’s future for the next generation. She noted that scientific analysis suggested that a 2 degrees rise in the earth’s temperature was likely to result in climate change and that at present current emission levels were forecast to result in a 5 degrees rise. The question was just how much of an impact that level of increase would have on the climate and therefore any action that could be taken to help to reduce that should be taken now. She therefore hoped that councillors would support the motion.

50.50 The Mayor congratulated Councillor Greenbaum on her maiden speech on behalf of the Council.

50.51 Councillor Wealls stated that he appreciated the sentiments behind the motion but was not sure how they could be taken forward. The Pension Board’s role was to support and scrutinise the work of the Pension Fund which would look at the acceptable risks in order to generate the best return on the investments. He believed that having an investment in certain areas meant that there was an opportunity to engage with companies and seek to influence them which could lead to improvements and thereby reduce emissions etc.

50.52 Councillor Allen stated that he believed the pension fund was in a healthy position and that it would be better to await the outcome of the Paris conference before considering how to influence matters.

50.53 Councillor Littman stated that it was an important subject that should be considered by everyone as it affected the future of the world’s population. He hoped that the motion could be supported and felt that it would be a travesty if it was not fully supported.

50.54 Councillor Sykes stated that he had previously served on the East Sussex Pension Panel and had suggested pulling out of investing in fossil fuels which if it had been taken up would have saved a significant amount. He believed that action could be taken and could then enable change for the better.

50.55 Councillor Greenbaum noted the comments and stated that it was time to decide whether the council wanted to take action and noted that engaging with energy companies had not worked in the past. She felt that there was a need to be ahead of the game and this was one way of taking the lead on such an important issue.

50.56 The Mayor then put the following motion to the vote

“This Council notes:

• The upcoming Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, otherwise known as “Paris 2015”, starting on November 30th.

This Council requests:

1) The Acting Chief Executive write to the Leader of East Sussex County Council requesting a position statement on the potential impact of stranded fossil fuel assets on the ESPF deficit, suggesting divestment as a way forward; and

2) That the Council’s representative on the ESCC Pensions Board maintain a strong position against fossil fuel investment on the Pensions Board and that s/he report to Council annually on progress.”

50.57 The Mayor confirmed that the motion had been lost by 11 votes to 23, with 19 abstentions as detailed below or as a pdf:

BrightonCounciloctober2015ESCCVote

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